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RandyMoss8404
07-01-2004, 11:28 PM
Antoine Winfield is still looking sharp...

Winfield Out To Prove Coverage Skills
By Tim Yotter
Date: Jul 1, 2004

The stories of how the Vikings got Antoine Winfield to sign with Minnesota are great drama, but Winfield’s last two months have been spent proving to those in the organization that he’s worth the big contract he signed.

When the Vikings laid out $35 million over six years, including $10.8 million in a roster bonus, Antoine Winfield became the highest paid outside free agent in franchise history.

"The day he stepped on the field he upgraded us," said free safety Brian Russell. "He’s a shutdown corner. I don’t know if corners like to be called that because it puts a lot of pressure on them, but the guy is that skilled. You can put him on the No. 1 receiver all day and feel real comfortable doing that. They say he’s one of the better tacklers in the league."

The stories of how he had a pen in his hand ready to sign with the New York Jets before the Vikings wooed him with a phone call and a better offer are entertaining for sure, and they are pretty accurate as well, Winfield said.

But a paperwork delay on the Jets’ part and a last-minute call from Vikings head coach Mike Tice to Winfield’s agent made all the difference to fans of the purple.

"If (the Jets) would have had the contract ready, I probably would have signed. But they didn’t," Winfield said. "We went over there and they didn’t have the contract ready. That gave my agent and Coach Tice more time to talk. My decision was to come here.

"It was a better deal and I wanted to win a Super Bowl. With the offense that they have here and the improvement of the defense and Coach (Ted) Cottrell coming in, I think there’s a good shot."

While there were also stories of his wife not being particularly fond of New York, Winfield said that wasn’t really the case. Two four-letter words brought him to Minnesota — the "deal" and the "team."

Before he even put on a purple jersey, Winfield was receiving heavy praise from Vikings scouts, and the last two months he has been showing those in the organization why they wanted him so badly. He has been tight with his coverage in practices and ready to offer run support.

He will need at least that first attribute in covering the receivers in the NFC North, especially a young and tall duo emerging in Detroit. That’s why going against Randy Moss during practices in May and June could be valuable when Winfield meets Detroit in November and December.

Then it will be the 5-foot-9 cornerback covering the 6-foot-2 Charles Rogers and Roy Williams.

"Detroit has those two. They always tell me about small corners out there and jump balls, but we’re not out there playing basketball," Winfield said. "There are some big receivers in this conference, but I’ll step up to the challenge."

Moss and the offense have been quick to talk big in practice, but Winfield isn’t one to back down.

"That’s fun," he said of the competitive jawing in practice. "We expect that from them. They’re good players, especially Moss. He’s one of the best receivers in the NFL right now, and I just have fun going against a player like that."

He’s getting used to new teammates, but defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell is someone who Winfield is familiar with. Cottrell was in Buffalo as its defensive coordinator between 1998-2000, and Winfield entered the league as a rookie in 1999.

"He’s a motivator. He’s a teacher," Winfield said of Cottrell. "You go in after practice every day and he corrects mistakes. He’s a jokester and he can make you laugh. Once you mess up, he’ll get on you."

Winfield expects an aggressive style of defense this season.

"We’re going to do a lot of zone blitzing and put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, play some cover two and just mix up a lot of coverages."

That means the cornerback will be left alone in space at times while a safety that could be helping him is blitzing. That doesn’t bother Winfield in the least. "(Cottrell) knows what I can do," he said.

What Winfield has done in the past five years is provide solid tackling and coverage skills and become known as one of the better cornerbacks in the league. According to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, there was Champ Bailey, then Antoine Winfield, then no one else in this year’s free-agent crop worth spending big money on.

But the rap on Winfield has been his lack of interceptions — six in five years. Scouts and coaches with the Vikings say that is simply because teams don’t throw Winfield’s way. Winfield just says the interceptions will come, but they won’t define him. His tackling skills are what make him a prized cornerback in the NFL.

"I just go out there and play the game. The interceptions will come. I don’t go out there and give up big plays. That’s my strong suit. I make a lot of tackles," he said.

"I learned that at a very early age, playing with the kids around my neighborhood, my uncles and everyone. I just have that passion, that aggressiveness. I like to come up and make tackles. I’ve been doing it since I was eight years old, so that’s not going to change."

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And, not only did EJ Henderson and the other Vikings come to Farmer's defense, but the man did not receive sufficient harm as to warrant felony charges.

Injuries in Vikings fight aren't felony caliber
Margaret Zack, Star Tribune
July 2, 2004 CHARGE0702


Injuries to Troy Lamont Jones, who fought three Minnesota Vikings players outside the Tabu nightclub in Minneapolis last month, were not severe enough to merit felony assault charges, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said Thursday.

She said she has referred the case to the Minneapolis city attorney's office for possible misdemeanor charges.

Klobuchar said that Jones had "substantial bruising" from the fight, but worse injuries such as broken bones are needed for felony charges.

Vikings linebackers E.J. Henderson and Michael Nattiel, both 23, and tight end Steven Farmer, 24, who since has been released by the team, were arrested about 2 a.m. on June 6. Nattiel's uncle also was arrested.

According to a police report, the four men continued to kick, punch and stomp on Jones' body and head after the 32-year-old Brooklyn Center man was knocked unconscious.

He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he was treated and released.

"This was abhorrent behavior, not what we want happening on our streets," Klobuchar said. "It now is before the city attorney for misdemeanors."

City spokeswoman Sara Dietrich said she would review the case and "make a charging decision as quickly as possible."

Attorney Bill Mauzy, who represents the Vikings players, said he was pleased that Klobuchar declined to prosecute.

"Based on what we know, the injuries were not substantial," he said.

He said his investigation showed that Farmer was assaulted first and the Vikings came to his defense.

"It's difficult to sort out individual culpability in the midst of mayhem," he said.

He said he will talk to the city attorney about the investigation.

VikingsTw
07-02-2004, 01:13 AM
Well thats good news at first everyone made it out to be real bad like they damn near killed him i mean 3 huge ass football players stomping one dude they could kill him real fast, i knew the story was overblown just like everything else, and i also figured it wasnt near as bad when tice said everybody would be surprised when the truth came out

hawaiianvike21
07-02-2004, 03:57 AM
Hey is that winfield article todays premium viking update story???? It would be nice if someone that has viking update premium to post some of its articles on here for others to read. Ive seen it done on other messageboards as well.

VikingsTw
07-02-2004, 05:34 AM
Hawain I was thinking the same thing sometimes there is a really intristing title to those articles that i want to read but i cant because i dont have insiders i know a couple people here do.

Oh by the way all the Inside Stories on Viking update r free to read till the fourth of july so i have been reading up on all the stories i never get to read

casper
07-02-2004, 09:03 AM
man I lost out if the insider stuff is only free until this weekend I just got back on line and found you guys oh well there is the rest of the season, of real time. can't wait SKOL good articals by the way hope winfield is as good as it says...just kinds of pumps you up for the new year Hun

SKOL
07-02-2004, 09:51 AM
It would be nice if they took Skol Bucks :scratch:

triedandtruevikesfan
07-02-2004, 10:10 AM
lol... I wish everyone took skol bucks... I've got quite a few racked up that I could use!

VKG4LFE
07-02-2004, 10:16 AM
Yeah, like my credit card company!!